Gendering and Intersectionality of Social Capital: Community Development in Beijing and Hong Kong

Project: Research project

Project Details


Gender scholars stress awareness of intersectionality, that is, the variation in the meaning and effects of gender depending on configurations of class, race, nationality, age and sexuality. Intersectional approaches do not simply add the effects of these social relations together as variables but look at the complex conditioning and multiplicative effects to be found when these are combined. Intersectional approaches to social capital and community development constitute the conceptual framework of the proposed research. Responding to the development of intersectional perspectives on gender largely in Western contexts, this study proposes to extend intersectional consideration to the types and characteristics of social capital in deprived communities in Beijing and Hong Kong. Through an intersectional consideration of gender that is responsive to the specificity of these particular local contexts, the study brings Chinese communities in the East into the further development of this theory. Moreover, this use of theories of gender and intersectionality in understanding social capital will highlight the variation in social, political, economic and cultural contexts that shape how social capital works in and through inequality in gender relations. Empirical comparative research that draws out such gendered intersectionality in migration experiences will offer insights useful to designing innovative measures and effective strategies to develop social capital in low-income communities. Beijing and Hong Kong represent two Chinese cities with significant differences in their social-historical contexts as well as in the local development of community services for migrants. Strategies to develop and sustain social capital that are intersectionally informed should serve practical, immediate needs for low-income women migrants in these two cities. These services could also offer strategic possibilities for countering the gender equalities in the context of increasing social and spatial polarization.

The research objectives are five-fold: (1) to measure intersectional social capital of deprived communities in Beijing and Hong Kong; (2) to compare intersectional workings of gender, age, migration status and class in understanding social capital of deprived communities of Beijing and Hong Kong; (3) to identify outcomes for low-income migrant women in Beijing and Hong Kong of the intersectional workings of gender, age, migration status and class on their social capital; (4) to engender, sensitize and thus improve the measurement of social capital for characteristics of gender, age, migration status and class by proposing changes to the Social Capital Questionnaire-Chinese (SCQ-C); and (5) to propose local and intersectional community development strategies to develop social capital for low-income women migrants.

Two community surveys will be conducted in Hong Kong and Beijing using the SCQ-C that was validated by the PI in a previous GRF study. Qualitative interviews will be conducted with 48 female migrants in each community and 6-8 providers of community services. Low-income female migrants are the focus of this research as their experiences are best exemplary of the impacts of the intersection of social statuses of gender, age, migration status and class in real life. The research outcome will include the understanding of the types, characteristics and impact of social capital for deprived communities in Beijing and Hong Kong, a comparison of the two communities and analysis of gender differences located in the broader social, political and economic contexts. The qualitative findings will inform revision of the SCQ-C and qualitative inquiry in the next stage to strengthen its validity in terms of understanding social capital according to gender, age, migration status and class in Chinese communities. This will both allow contributions to widening theories of intersectionality to be more inclusive of Chinese experiences and perspectives and, by examining current practices of community service provision in Beijing and Hong Kong, identify potentials for social workers to further enhance social capital in these communities.
Effective start/end date1/01/2130/06/24


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